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February 2015

Restitution Matters Despite recent easing of US trade restrictions with Cuba, restitution of fine art seized by Cuba in the 1960’s is still no closer. Cuba has taken the position that the art in question was not stolen and similarly has made no efforts to facilitate its return. Some predict that rising demand, and increasing popularity of Cuban art will lead to the sale of seized works, and point out that sales of Cuban art abroad began shortly after the first seizures. Cuba also seized industrial, commercial, and private property from US citizens; claims which now function to block museum loans between the US and Cuba. Details.

CAA’s fair use guideline The College Art Association released its “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts” earlier this month, although it is hardly accurate to call it a “code.” Targeted toward the visual arts community, the publication does not provide the reader with hard and fast rules by which to abide, it is perhaps best to describe it as a guideline. Five chapters of the pamphlet covers five basic areas in which a fair use defense may arise: “Analytic Writing,” “Teaching about Art,” “Making Art,” “Museum Uses” and “Online Access to Archival and Special Collections.” Despite covering the area in which a fair use defense is least likely to be available, the “Making Art” section is the briefest of the five and contains such obvious advice as “Artists should avoid suggesting that incorporated elements are original to them.” Despite its shortcomings, the guideline at least provides a basic understanding of this area of the law to artists in an era where using digital tools to appropriate existing works into one’s own work is becoming increasingly common. The full text is available here.

Cultural Matters Since 1966, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) has shaped the preservation of America’s historic and cultural heritage legacy in every corner of the nation, and generated widespread social and economic impacts. It stabilizes neighborhoods and downtowns, contributes to public education, attracts investment and creates jobs, generates tax revenues, supports small business and affordable housing, and powers America’s heritage tourism industry. Publicly-owned historic properties, from community landmarks to federal facilities and national parks, also maintain community pride and identity, contribute to local and regional economies through their operation and maintenance, and foster a variety of public uses.

Preservation50 is the United States’ effort to plan, celebrate, and learn from the achievements and challenges of the NHPA’s first five decades and to assure historic preservation’s vibrant future in America. Please check out the website ( and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn how you can get involved with this historic celebration.